For 12 years, Laurie Collins delighted the smallest visitors to the Newbury Town Library as she entertained and educated the children who attended Story Time.
Collins would use those sessions to share a story’s lesson and to communicate her love of reading — but, often, she also had a much bigger mission in place.
Collins, 56, would use the Story Time program to hold various drives and to collect materials for children and families in need, including clothing and sneakers. Each winter, she hosted pajama drives for the Brighton-based charity Cradles to Crayons, which provides essential items to children in low-income families.
“That turned out to be my very favorite,” Collins said.
As she and library patrons organized the drive each year, the conversation would often turn to the cherished ritual of bedtime. “We would often talk about what a wonderful time of the day it is usually, when you put your child to bed at night. One of my favorite things when my boys were growing up was bedtime and books. It was a lovely way to end the day.”
Parents tuck their children in and watch as they fall asleep, wondering what their children are thinking or if they are dreaming about their favorite things, Collins said.
“Cradles to Crayons made me stop and think not every child goes off to bed feeling safe and warm,” she said. “All children should have the potential to be whatever they want to be. We should make that possible, as a society, to keep them safe and warm at night with plenty to eat.”
However, as she sought to explain the charity and the mission of the pajama drives to her young visitors, she struggled to find the perfect book to describe the importance of pajamas and the goal of the charity in a way her little friends could understand.